News editors need to retake Journalism 101 or move to features when stories about the White House dog take precedence over a controversial veto by the President's unconfirmed appointment to Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill, House Substitute for SB 218, April 23 which would have placed additional restrictions on third trimester abortions and allowed more criminal charges over late-term procedures to occur.
With the exception of “Special Report with Bret Baier” that night and “Fox and Friends” the morning of April 24, the broadcast media avoided covering the controversial decision. But “Today,” “The Early Show,” and “Good Morning America” all had time to cover Michelle Obama talking about the first family's new dog Bo the morning of April 24.
The Washington Post and USA Today ignored Sebelius' veto even though her Senate confirmation vote is coming up next week.
The New York Times' published a brief mention of the veto by the Associated Press which noted Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's reaction and call for more answers about Sebelius' abortion views. But that brief failed to note his call for the withdrawal of her nomination. The Los Angeles Times mention of the veto was a mere 137 words long.
Contrast that with Erica Werner's AP story which detailed the controversy and was more than four times as long. Werner quoted Steele as saying, “Significant questions remain about Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' evolving relationship with late-term abortion doctor as well as about her position on the practice of late-term abortions … If Gov. Sebelius and the Obama administration are unwilling to answer these questions, President Obama should withdraw her nomination.”
Werner said the White House wouldn't comment on the issue and quoted a spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying Steele had a “baseless attack.”
That AP article also noted Sebelius' failure to disclose an additional $23,000 donation from the late-term abortion doctor Dr. George Tiller was a concern to Senators but she apologized for her error. Catholic League president Bill Donohue said in a statement on April 23, “The veto by Sebelius was a political kickback to Dr. George Tiller … all along he was buying protection from lawsuits, and yesterday he got what he wanted.”
Iris Somberg is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute.